It is hard to believe that the television is only about 60 years old. In the 1950's not every family had a television set and the ones that did often found that they would have unexpected guest dropping by in the evenings just to watch this brand new form of entertainment.
So many of us have grown up with TV, it was there to baby sit us as children, amuse us as teens and relax us as adults. A constant stream of information and entertainment that we take for granted that almost every household has access to.
Many people will be willing to give up almost everything else before they give up their televisions.
While it can be great for showing us what is going on in the world is television actually making us poor with unrealistic expectations on how we should be living? Read on for 8 questions you should be asking yourself.
The middle class dream is a dream of comfort and home ownership and security. America the country of endless possibilities had it hopes crushed with the craziness of the mortgage scandal and people using the most important asset of their lives, their homes, as a piggy bank.
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Copyright Ingrid Talpak 2011
In America the average amount of debt in the 1950's was at about 35% and this rose to about 65% over the next 3 decades. In 2000 it hit 100% and by 2007 it had reached 133%. These figures include mortgages as well as credit card debt, student loans etc.
But think of it. In 1950 having 35% debt basically meant that the only debt that you were carrying was your mortgage, for everything else either you paid cash or you did without.(Read more: http://www.time.com/time/business/article/0,8599,1903769,00.html#ixzz1QlxwgBCh)
What changed? The invention of television and the chance to obtain easy credit with credit cards. For the first time in history almost everything that you could ever want could be put on credit and with minimum payments the reckoning could be differed almost indefinitely.
And what were people watching on television at this time? Commercials that had tag lines such as ,"You deserve a break", "Because you deserve it" or "I'm worth it". Buy the product and be like the person that was selling it on television. A lot of money was paid (and still is) to beautiful famous people to be spokespersons for products because they give the illusion that they were who they were because they used these same products.
There was a fantasy perception that the sets on television programs showed how average people lived and when viewers looked around their own homes they felt that they came up short and it was an easy trip to the mall with credit card in hand that could fix that problem.
This incredible sense of entitlement rolled across like a tidal wave. The 80's were are era of designer styles that everyone should own. From jeans to sunglasses. You wore your wealth on your back and you showed off your money when dinning out, on vacations and at the spa, all put on credit cards. Magazines featured homes of the same people that you could watch on television and made you feel that you too could live in such style.
Why do people think that they are entitled to a certain life style? For many it is because they see someone on television that they either feel they are equal to, connected to, or are inspired to be like.
Your favorite television diva owns 600 pairs of jeans? Then it doesn't seem that unreasonable that you should own 50. If the guy on late night TV that you are always watching is driving the truck of his dreams then why shouldn't you. If it seems that everyone else in TV world is having more fun with more money than you are then time to pull out the credit card and even it all up.
Of course for anyone that thinks that they are financially responsible to be influenced by television seems ridiculous but if you have debt that you can't explain and are living a lifestyle that you can not afford then you need to ask yourself the following 8 questions.
How do you know if you are being overly influenced by what you are seeing on television?
- When thinking about an idyllic place is it something that you have only ever seen on television or is it someplace that you have actually been and experienced?
- Do you watch television programs and try to emulate the homes or clothes of the characters in the shows?
- Do you believe everything that is said on television commercials regarding health claims of products (such a breakfast cereals or diet foods) or do you try to find out more information on your own?
- Are you "brand loyal" to products like soft drinks, snack foods, or alcohol because you think people that use these brands are perceived in a certain way such being more sophisticated, fashionable or cool?
- Have you ever bought and used a product as suggested from a television program or commercial even though you could not afford it at the time but wanted to appear trendsetting?
- Have you started to buy unhealthy snacks or candies because commercials show that they would be convenient to keep in your office desk or bedside table even though you know by doing this you will be undermining your diet or healthy eating plan?
- Are you weekly spending money that could be used to pay off debt on "treats" or "luxuries" that you see everyone else on television having such as expensive take-out coffees or manicures?
- Does seeing a television commercial for a super sale (like a white sale) make you plan to attend that sale even though you have no need for more of that product but you don't want to miss out on getting a great bargain?
If you are answering YES to these questions then it is time that you realize what a hold that your television has on you. While television can be a great way keep informed and entertained you need to step back and realize that nothing on television is put the accidentally.
Product placement in television show are done so commercials now blend seamlessly with the programming and so you will bond more with the characters that are using the same products you can.
There is a psychology to television commercials to make you want to believe what they are telling you and suggest that it is only natural that you should be buying that product.
You might need to spend time criticizing commercials and looking for flaws in the shows that you watch. Look up the incomes of what the characters of the show realistically make and see if anyone could be living as well on that as they do. (This is a great exercise to do with teenagers to show them how unrealistic most shows are).
If you grew up with television it might be very hard to realize that it is being a bad influence on your spending habits. Maybe the best thing that you could be doing right now is disconnect your television service and use the money you had been spending on your cable to pay down your debt.
While television can be a lot of fun and at times very informative you have to make sure that you are in control of the messages you are receiving from it, separate fact from fiction and realize that it is always trying to sell you something.
Other articles to read:Want to Live a Life of Luxury? It's All In The Details
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Photography and Content
Copyright Ingrid Talpak 2011